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Ministry examining illegal mine accusations

Ministry examining illegal mine accusations

A company in Ratanakkiri is being investigated on suspicion of unlicensed gold mining in the Sesan River, officials from the Ministry of Mines and Energy and its provincial counterpart confirmed yesterday.

The provincial mines and energy department sent a team on Thursday and Friday to confirm the operations at the site, said Meng Saktheara, spokesman for the ministry, identifying the company in question as the Chhay Ching Heang Group.

While the company is licensed to extract sand from the river, he continued, the investigation is looking at whether the company was extracting gold, for which it doesn’t have a licence.

When conducting the investigation, the team saw equipment they suspect is used for extracting gold, but it hasn’t been confirmed that the equipment was being used for that purpose, Saktheara said.

Hun Bunthan, director of the provincial mines department, confirmed the company has a licence for sand dredging, but officials are waiting for licensing documentation to see if the company was operating within the parameters of the licence.

The investigators took materials from the site, which will be sent to the ministry for analysis to determine “if it’s gold extraction or not”, Bunthan said.

“At this stage, we are calling the company for clarification, and we will do more investigating into whether they committed an offence or not.”

If the company is mining gold, its machinery could be confiscated, it could be fined and the case could end up in court, Saktheara said.

A representative for the company didn’t return a call seeking comment yesterday.

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